Widow speaks of suffering

“Up until this day, I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that my husband has passed away in the hands of the defendants." 

“Whatever sentencing handed down by the Court, it will not bring back my husband, the father of my children.” 

This was tearful plea from the wife of the late Misa Vailigi Rarotoga of Vaimea who died last year as a result of a brutal attack. 

The wife’s statement was read in open court as part of the Victim’s Impact Report for the sentencing hearing of PJ Tupuola Puni and Max Alefosio who were found guilty of manslaughter. 

They were initially charged with murder.

However following a lengthy murder trial last month, the assessors found the defendants not guilty of murder but guilty for manslaughter. 

Presiding in the matter was Justice Lei’ataualesa Daryl Clarke. 

Puni was represented by lawyer Diana Roma while Alefosio was represented by Lei’ataua Jerry Brunt. The prosecutor was Leone Su’a-Mailo.

According to the victim’s impact report, the deceased suffered severe injuries to his head. 

“This led to internal bleeding into his brain and eventually led to his death.” 

The deceased’s face was bashed and he had some scratches on his legs and bruises on his side. 

The wife noted in the report, the impact of her husband’s death has made life complicated for their family. 

“He was the breadwinner of the family and he was solely depended upon for the raising of my children." 

“Sometimes my children forget that he has passed away. They would ask me when he would return home." 

“Those are some of the moments where it hits me hard and it makes it difficult to accept the fact he’s gone.” 

The report says that Misa was a loving and a great father and always prioritised his children. 

The court also heard from the impact report that there was an ifoga conducted by the defendant’s family and they presented $8,000+ and it was dully accepted.

The deceased family spent $30,000 for the funeral arrangements. 

The prosecution submitted that 12 years in jail is a good starting point for sentencing.

Both defense counsels informed the court that 12-years sentencing proposed by Prosecution as starting point was too high. They both left it to the Court’s discretion as to what the sentencing starting point should be. 

Justice Lei’ataulesa ordered for sentencing to be postponed until next month, while he considers the submissions by all parties. 

The defendants are remanded in custody until 12 June 2017.

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